The staff at thump are rallying for a road trip to Portland this weekend to watch the United States National Barista Championship, attend some trainings, and tour some coffeehouses. We’re finalizing the logistical details for sending everyone and still keeping the shop open to serve you!
Presented by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), the world’s largest coffee trade association, the National Barista Championship is an event that brings together from across the country the most highly skilled baristas, who have already won or were runner-up winners in 1 of 10 regional competitions. Over a three day period, the 50 winners will be whittled down to just six, for the final competition day. The winner of that day will represent the United States at the 2009 World Barista Championship this year in Atlanta, Georgia.
To watch a barista competition is both nerve racking and awe inspiring. One at a time, each participant has 15 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to perform. During the performance segment, a large digital clock starts counting. (That’s the nerve racking part.) The competitor is required to make three rounds of drinks for four sensory judges, for a total of 12 drinks, in the allotted 15 minutes! Meanwhile, four technical judges with clipboards are poking around the espresso machine while the drinks are being prepared. The competitor prepares four straight shots of espresso, four cappuccinos with latte art and four signature drinks while talking to the judges and audience about their drink preparations.
Competitors are judged on:
Cleanliness of the Competition Area
Each competitor selects an espresso blend that may very well have been created just for that competition. Stumptown’s Hairbender espresso that we serve at Thump has been used in these competitions numerous times! (See video clip below.) The competitor also comes with the ingredients for an original signature drink that is inspired by the larger culinary world. For example, Portland’s Billy Wilson, winner of the 2007 and 2008 Northwest Regional Barista Championship ended his 2008 regional competition with a signature drink that the SCAA described as “… inspired by a chocolate-espresso torte desert and side of blue cheese ice cream he had at a Portland restaurant. The event-clinching concoction featured a quarter teaspoon of tempered Scharffen Berger chocolate, an espresso shot and a small amount of ground berry allspice. To complement the drink, Wilson included a side of crème anglaise or “pourable custard,” which consisted of blue cheese and wildflower honey.”
Stream videos at Ustream
Check out his entire 15 minute semi-final round at the 2008 Northwest Regional Barista Competition where he discussed why he used Stumptown’s Hairbender espresso for all of his drinks.
The location of this national championship changes each year. We are fortunate that this year the event and related barista trainings are happening close enough to Bend that we can go, learn and take it all in!